BORIS Johnson has been urged to invest government money into Hampshire and the rest of the South East.

The region contributes more than £100billion a year in tax revenues but is lagging behind the rest of the country in productivity growth, research has said.

Romsey Rural councillor Cllr Roy Perry, who chairs the body South East England Councils, has written to the prime minister, urging the government not to group the South East with London, which receives more investment and has higher standards of living.

Cllr Perry, who stood down as leader of Hampshire County Council in May, told the Daily Echo: “Our key message is that the prosperity of the south cannot be taken for granted and whilst we are pleased for there to be economic development in the north and Midlands, the south must not be neglected as our contribution to the national economy is crucial – and the south east is not London.”

In his letter to the prime minister, he said: “A successful South East is an essential ingredient of a successful United Kingdom, more so as we enter a new era of international trade as the South East is the country’s second largest exporter and a main gateway to international markets.

“The government’s ambitions for increased spending on essential public services and infrastructure will also be well served by over £100bn of tax revenues generated in the South East.

“It is in everyone’s interest for the South East to reach its full potential in terms of growth, productivity and skills. That is a challenge that we embrace, working with partners in the private and public sectors.”

Research for South East England Councils suggests the region makes a huge contribution to the UK’s economy but that its economy is stagnating through under-investment.

Growth in the region has been below the national average during the past decade and productivity has not increased, it said.

It found the region makes a net contribution to the Exchequer of £19.4bn which may not be sustained. Its GVA (gross value added) would be £8bn larger if output had increased at the national average and £31bn larger if it had expanded at the same rate as London.

Cllr Perry wrote to Mr Johnson: “We applaud efforts to advance the economies in other regions and support your announcement of further infrastructure investment. As the former mayor, you of course aware of the transformational benefits that such investment has had in London, and the resultant increases in economic growth.

“We urge the government to recognise the importance of making similar investment in the South East so that it can match increases in economic growth and productivity, and in doing so protect British exports.

“To aid understanding of what is required to achieve growth we hope that ministers and officials will avoid grouping London and the South East together as there are important differences between the areas including trends in economic performance and the standard of infrastructure such as public transport and broadband.”

The region’s 2017 GVA figure of £29,000 per head made it eight per cent more prosperous than the UK average but was £20,000 lower than London.

The South East England Councils’ research said England’s northern regions had received significant public investment since 2000 and most of the northern economies had performed relatively well compared with the South East and east of England, which had the lowest government central government spending per head.